How to Take the Best Travel Photos in Istanbul, Turkey

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General Travel Advice

Where to Take Photos in Istanbul

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Do You Love Taking Photos? For me, nothing is better than spending my day with my camera in a great location like Istanbul. Taking photos in Istanbul is wonderful. It’s a visual tasty treat. However, everyone doesn’t want to be my subject. The person in my cover photo walked up to me a starred right into my camera after following me for about 10 minutes.

I stopped turned looked at her right in the eye, and took the photo. This was a person who wanted her picture taken. My goal is to be careful and considerate to the people I photograph. Ugly photos aren’t my thing – so I delete what I don’t use, out of focus or the ugly photos. Most photographers keep everything.

My focus is on light, action and emotion of people or places. My goal is to capture the experience.

Learn About Taking Photos In Istanbul

When taking pictures in Istanbul or any foreign country, I am careful not to offend people by taking their picture when they don’t want their photo taken. Some of these photos were taken with my cell phone because I don’t always want to be obvious.

How do I know who doesn’t want me to take their picture?

There are two ways for me to tell who wants me to take their picture.

  • Ask for permission
  • Observe their body language

Taking Photos in Istanbul

Taking Photos in Istanbul

Photographing a covered woman without her permission, or photographing children without the parent’s permission is considered rude in Istanbul and everywhere.

It violates the person’s privacy. If you are photographing a street scene or community and people, tell you to stop, stop immediately.

Taking Photos in Istanbul

Taking Photos in Istanbul – Use common sense – Blurr Peoples Faces

I am amazed when I see tourists who skip these basic rules. As a solo woman traveler, knowing basic customs and norms is important when you are photographing people and places.

  • If people look away or cover their face, don’t take the shot as they most likely don’t want a photo
  • Ask permission if someone is working or if you want to take a photo of their business
  • When you take a photo of a child, ask their parent for permission

When you take a photo stop walking!

Taking Photos in Istanbul

Taking Photos in Istanbul

I have seen many tourists get hurt because they didn’t stop walking before they shot the photo. If you are walking, you aren’t watching where you are going, and you can easily fall.

Taking Photos in Istanbul

Taking Photos in Istanbul – Selfie sticks should be outlawed everywhere

Selfie sticks can be useful, but they are banned in a lot of places. I think this is for a good reason. First, it’s dangerous, as I mentioned, to walk and take photos. Second, it’s also ugly for the rest of us and ruins the view. Lots of museums and tourist sites ban selfie sticks, so ask and be aware of your surroundings. You could be breaking the rules and might be asked to leave by doing this.

This man did not want to be in a photo – Respect others wishes

Taking Photos in Istanbul

Taking Photos in Istanbul – Ask permission

The young lady from Qatar wanted her picture taken. I asked permission, and she graciously said yes.

Taking Photos in Istanbul

Be aware of your surroundings

I think the most important point about where to take photos is to be aware of your surroundings and use common sense. Some churches, mosques, and synagogues don’t allow you to take photos inside. Museums sometimes don’t allow photos at all, or they will make you pay to take photos. Other museums, like some in Britain, encourage you to take photos.

Photographing Children

When I want to take a photo of children, I ask permission of their parents. I chat a little with the kids, so they understand what I am doing. If we don’t speak the same language, it takes a little more effort to communicate. In the photo below, we had played with a soccer ball together before I took photos. Sometimes I sit with the people or watch the action for a while. I usually, show them my photos.

Take a sample photo and show it to the mother and child to help explain what you want to do if you don’t speak the same language.

Taking Photos in Istanbul

Taking Photos in Istanbul – Watch, Be an Observer.

I do a lot of watching, hanging around, sitting and just waiting to take my photos.

Taking Photos in Istanbul

Taking Photos in Istanbul – Don’t call attention to yourself

This is good advice for solo female travel in general. It’s a good idea to fit in as much as possible to the customs and norms of the country. I get better photos that way.

My job as a photographer is to fit in and not to make people uncomfortable. I try to keep a low-key and low-profile. My scarf in case I want to go into a mosque or holy place. These places require a scarf. I also have a scarf and use it.

My Gear

‘The simpler, the better’ is my mantra. My gear is simple, unbranded and I don’t carry a bag. I keep one of my lens filters on at all times to protect my camera lens. My lens cover is always off so I can take the shot, whenever a great photo appears. I remove the branded strap on my camera, so I don’t stand out by broadcasting the manufacturer.

My equipment is kept simple by removing the branded strap on my camera, so I don’t stand out by broadcasting the manufacturer of my camera regardless if it’s a Nikon or a Canon. I have a hot pink strap on my camera so that it stands out if it’s put in with a group of other cameras like at a museum storage area. I can find it with the hot pink strap.

My Cameras

My favorite camera is a Nikon D300, which I use now, my hope is to buy this year a full frame D750 24-120 VR Lens Kit or D810 with 24-120mm VR Lens Kit. I buy all of my camera gear from B&H. Therefore, my y favorite camera store is B&H – they offer great advice and value.

They also keep a record of all my purchases so when I need service, I have the receipt and purchase information. It’s true, I don’t use a full frame camera at this time to save money. My heavy duty D300 camera can catch the action and the location. Remember to buy high-speed media.
Below is a photo that captures the view of the courtyard, bored gal and man digging the photo time at Suleymaniye Mosque.

Taking Photos in Istanbul

Sightseeing at Suleymaniye Mosque

Girl with her nose in a book at Arasta Bazaar, well if you a kid all this shopping can be boring. Love the Amazon Kindle.

Taking Photos in Istanbul

Take the Shot

The last advice I want to offer is to take the shot. It is so frustrating to me when a tourist stands someplace for a long time, getting ready to take the shot. Just take it for goodness’ sake. Everyone else wants to take a photo, too.

Taking Photos in Istanbul

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Kate started traveling for work. Now with grown children, who are travelers, she travels for pleasure looking for great travel experiences. Currently, her home is in Bellevue, WA, and lives with her cat Angelina Jolie. She has a Bachelor's of Fine Arts, Studio Arts and Art History from the University of Colorado, an MBA and Master of Arts, Management. Her favorite things are exploring new cultures, traveling the world, creating a painting and sour or spicy foods.

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